Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Argument from Lexicography

At the end of the "Arguments Against God" episode I briefly laid out what I call "The Argument from Lexicography." It turned out to be too deeply exigetical to get into at the tail end of a show, so we'll be tackling it in the next show along with the "Argument from Evil" and the "Argument from Divine Evil."

The Argument from Lexicography goes as such:

1) The Christian God is held to be loving, good, and just.

2) The God portrayed in the Bible is neither loving, good, nor just.

A) The God portrayed in the Bible is not loving (according to Paul's definition of Love in 1 Corinthians 13). Advanced as evidence for this is his lack of of kindness (commanding infant circumcision, Jesus' attempt to keep people from repenting for their sins, his coercion and bullying of people like Job and Jonah), his rampant envy and jealousy (exemplified by the First Commandment of the Decalogue, and God's repeated labeling of himself as a "Jealous God"). God is both prideful and boastful, going on at length about his mightyness, and (according to Christian theology) creating the universe for the sole purpose of glorifying himself). He is self-serving, manipulating people and events to serve his own ends (Moses, Job, sending evil spirits to torment Saul, etc.). He is swift to anger - there are, indeed, so many things that make him angry that Christian theology (beginning with Paul) claims that it is only through man's repentance and devotion that can God be persuaded to accept Jesus' death as covering for our deeds which offend him. The law of Exodus/Leviticus/Deuteronomy, and the major and minor prophets, are full of things which offend God (dietary choices, sexual choices, religious observance choices, basic human emotions such as anger and lust). He is resentful and holds grudges (observe his long anger against Israel, his punishment of the distant descendants of Ham to fulfill Noah's curse (Noah cursed Ham for laughing at his penis. Christian Theology further holds that God will engage in a final judgment, during which a person will be prosecuted for their every misstep, and that such a person will only be pardoned if he is covered by the blood of Jesus. Thus, God keeps a record of wrongs).
Thus, on almost every point of the Christian definition of love (which is an excellent definition), God fails to live up to the standard. He is, thus, neither generally loving nor love embodied.

B) The God portrayed in the Bible is not just. In the Old Testament he punishes whole nations (including children and livestock) for the sins of the ruling class, the culture, or even of the many. He proposes to absolve sins through blood sacrifice and substitutionary atonement (i.e. punishing a third party) rather than by either punishing people for their sins and rewarding them for their good works (justice) or forgiving people their sins (merciful) . In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God (except in special circumstances) accepts repentance only when repentance is accompanied by the infliction of punishment upon an innocent third party (sacrificial animals, Jesus, etc.). He further commands (in the Old Testament) the barring of deformed or injured people from fellowship with him, and the punishment (by death) of the ritually impure. Yet, he "holds blameless" those who do his will, even when his will involves acts that are otherwise sinful according to the Bible (such as the murder of women and children) or evil by the standards of Western morality (such as the owning of slaves, the subjugation of women, racism, and xenophobia).

C) God is not good. His lack of lovingness or justice is a strike against him here, but those are not that only reasons to assert he is not good. He is portrayed throughout the Bible operating in wantonly cruel ways: He accepts the human sacrifice of Jephtah's daughter in exchange for victory. His prophets count Lot as a good man because Lot offered his daughters up for gang rape to save his guests (god in disguise) from humiliation. He gives favor to David and calls him "a man after God's own heart," and finds blame in David only when David takes Bathsheba and murders Uriah (this despite the fact that David was a thief, a highwayman and terrorist, an usurper, failed to do justly by his own daughter when she was raped by his son, and had many many other disreputable/evil qualities). He issues no command for the emancipation of slaves, but rather endorses slavery (in both the Old and New Testaments). He is capricious and vainglorious, torturing Job and killing Job's family to win a bet with Satan, and then justifying it by saying "I'm strong, therefore I'm right." He displays consistent favoritism, and he threatens with violence those who do not show him the obeisance he believes himself due (indeed, according to Church doctrine those who do not worship him and accept his blood sacrifice will be done violence to for eternity).

3) On the basis of the testimony of the Bible, calling God "Good" "Love/Loving" or "Just" requires a complete redefinition of all of these terms. "Good" must become "That which God wills" (and thus based totally on caprice rather than on anything that can be rightly called morality). "Love" must be twisted to mean the kind of "love" that an abusive husband or father has for his victims. "Justice" must come to mean the kind of justice that punishes the innocent for the crimes of the guilty.

4) Therefore, if the Bible paints an accurate picture of the true God, then the God defined by Christian doctrine does not exist. If, on the other hand, the Bible does not paint an accurate picture of God, then Christianity cannot be true (as it depends wholly on the Bible).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Arguments Against God

Continuing from the previous discussion, we'll move on to address some arguments against the concept of the Christian God.

For background reading, check out Ted Drange's list here... and then listen to Dan and Reggie Finley discuss the list here (Infidel Guy show, March 2006).

More arguments can be found at

Friday, March 14, 2008

Arguments for God

On the Reasonable Faith Podcast, Kevin and Bill Craig have presented what they say are the best arguments for the Christian God.

1. The Moral Argument
  1. If God did not exist, objective moral values would not exist
  2. Objective moral values DO exist
  3. God exists.

2. The Kalam-Cosmological Argument
  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. The universe had a cause.
Here is a more complete version of the Kalam-Cosmological argument.

3. Teleological
  1. The universe is too complex, orderly, adaptive, apparently purposeful, or beautiful to have occurred randomly or accidentally.
  2. Therefore, the universe must have been created by a sentient, intelligent, wise, or purposeful being.
  3. God is that sentient, intelligent, wise, or purposeful being.
  4. Therefore, God exists.
(This argument is usually presented with a Fine-Tuning chaser.)

4. Ontological Argument (Anselm)
  1. God is, by definition, a being greater than anything that can be imagined.
  2. Existence both in reality and in imagination is greater than existence solely in one's imagination.
  3. Therefore, God must exist in reality; if He did not, God would not be a being greater than anything that can be imagined.
Ontological Argument (Plantinga)
  1. It is proposed that a being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good in W; and
  2. It is proposed that a being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world.
  3. Maximal greatness is possibly exemplified. That is, it is possible that there be a being that has maximal greatness. (Premise)
  4. Therefore, possibly it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists
  5. Therefore, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
  6. Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Some of the partners of the regular Apologia participants get together for a "ladies' night" of sorts, and talk about their own religious experiences and interest in common ground.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

More thoughts on sexual ethics...

Hello everyone, Danny here. Sorry I missed this episode, I enjoyed listening to it. I thought I'd give my two cents here.

I'm in a fairly unique position here as an atheist. I'm probably more "sexually pure" than many other Christians. The only person I've ever slept with is my wife and we didn't sleep together until after marriage. Now, I'd never be one to say that what we did was wrong, but I no longer think it's necessarily the "right way" either.

I think Kevin explained very well that fact the Christianity is not against sex or sexuality the way it's often perceived. When my former church talked about purity, they talked about how awesome and beautiful it is to express your love sexually for the one person that God picked out for you , and no one else. It's very romantic. If it's done right, it can be very cool.

However, life isn't always perfect romance, is it? I think one of the reasons we got married so young is that we didn't want to put anymore time in front of our need for sexual contact. That's not the reason we were married... at least, that wasn't the only thing. Of course, we were in love and we still are deeply in love. But if we could do it over again knowing what we know now, would we do it the same way? Probably not.

There were some good things about it. It was a character building challenge. It made some very good changes in our relationship. When we were alone together, we were forced to talk and talk and talk. What else is there to do? But all in all, the whole thing was done for slightly silly reasons. If you believe all the religious stuff behind the theory, it is it's own reward. But as freethinkers, it feels like we just denied ourselves some great pleasure.

I guess what I learned from all this, is that if you are ingrained in a Christian paradigm and you have a problem with "giving yourself" to someone other than your one, true soul-mate; you're going to be in a very tough position. You'll either bite the bullet, resist the temptation and devote yourself to building a strong relationship outside of sex and save it until you're ready for marriage. Or you'll give up, give in and have to deal with a whole world of un-necessary guilt for your actions.

I like what Dan said about the difference between sexual stupidness and sexual immorality. You shouldn't feel guilty for sexual stupidness, it's just a mistake like any other. Learn from it, and move on. The problem is when someone equates mistakes with actual immorality. It may be hard for someone to get out of their head the idea that they've been "violated" or "used" once they've had a sexual experience. Of course, I'm talking only about consensual sex between two adults.... There are of course sexual crimes that are devastating. That's neither here nor there.

So, doing it the Christian way is hard. And it's risky. It's a very high bar to live up to, and if you fail it could be a world of hurt and guilt. If you do it right, you'll probably be all the better for it.

That's all I got to say about that.